During last month’s COP27, leading companies including, H&M, Inditex, Stella McCartney, Ben & Jerry’s, HH Global, and Kering announced a collective commitment to purchase over half a million tonnes of low-carbon, low-footprint alternative fibers for fashion textiles and paper packaging. It is a move that will support the protection of the world’s vital forests and ecosystems and lower forest degradation pressures from the fashion and packaging supply chains.
Spearheaded by environmental nonprofit Canopy, this commitment towards more sustainable, lower-carbon alternatives — known as Next Generation Solutions — reflects a building urgency across industries to accelerate the transition to nature-positive business models. This market pull is essential to attract the investment necessary to scale these game-changing Next Generation alternatives on ecologically meaningful timelines.
At last year’s UN Climate Change Conference, protecting nature was at the center of commitments to deliver on global climate targets. Today one-third of the world’s most influential companies have yet to make forest conservation commitments, despite the scientific community’s warnings that at least 50% of the world’s forests need to be conserved or restored by 2030 to ensure global temperature rises stay below 1.5 °C.
Every year, over 3.2 billion trees are cut down to produce fiber for packaging and clothing, releasing vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Alternatives to wood — such as agricultural residues and recycled textiles — are readily available and can be scaled in order to prevent the logging of these forests at this untenable rate. Moving to Next Generation Solutions could help avoid almost 1Gt of CO2 emissions between now and 2030.
“We are thrilled to advance this commitment with forward-looking partners who are willing to challenge the status quo and in doing so provide a breakthrough for these game-changing technologies,” said Canopy Founder and Executive Director, Nicole Rycroft. “This commitment will allow us to take a historic leap closer to the $64 billion of investments in sustainable alternatives needed to ensure forest conservation for our planet’s climate and biodiversity stability.”
Today’s commitment will help unlock the investment needed to build 10 – 20 new low-footprint, Next Generation pulp mills; provide farm communities and cities with new markets to replace the burning of straw residue and textile landfilling; and prevent an estimated 2.2 million tonnes of GHG emissions from going into the atmosphere relative to the equivalent production of virgin forest fiber.
“At H&M Group, we are committed to becoming a circular business, in which moving towards more sustainable alternatives for our materials is crucial. Canopy has showed true leadership by bringing the fashion and regenerated cellulosic industries together with the purpose of reducing fashion’s dependency on forests,” said Madelene Ericsson, Environmental Sustainability Business Expert H&M Group. “ Innovative low-carbon solutions, such as regenerated cellulosic fibers from waste textiles, microbial cellulose or agricultural residues, will play a vital role to help us reduce our impact on climate and protect forests, so no ancient and endangered forests are put at risk to make fashion. These next generation solutions and collaborations like Canopy’s help us taking strong steps towards our goal for all our materials to be either recycled or sourced in a more sustainable way by 2030.”
The signatories have also committed to ensuring their respective supply chains are free of Ancient and Endangered Forests and are calling on industry peers to follow suit by shifting towards sustainable Next Generation alternatives – such as fibers made from agricultural residue or recycled textiles.
When compared to forest fibers, Next-Generation Solutions have on average:
- 95% to 130% less CO2 emissions
- 18% to 70% less fossil energy resource depletion
- 88% to 100% fewer land-use impacts
- at least 5x lower impact on biodiversity/threatened species
”At Kering, we aim at reducing our footprint on biodiversity, and contribute to preserving and restoring critical ecosystems,” said Yoann Régent, Head of Sustainable Sourcing & Nature Initiatives. “We are excited to be joining our long-time partner Canopy to support a rapid scale-up of sustainable Next Generation materials production as well as uptake of low-carbon, low-footprint alternative fibers for textiles and paper packaging.”
“We are collaborating with Canopy to accelerate the development and adoption of Next Generation Solutions within supply chains rooted in forests. I am proud to say we have been partnering with Canopy since 2014 and have been a zero-deforestation brand since 2017 — never sourcing from ancient, endangered or protected forests. We must take action today in order to protect our forests for tomorrow,” said Stella McCartney.
“We are so pleased to be a part of this initiative to keep precious forests standing and to help speed the switch to low impact, circular alternatives for forest fiber,” said Kevin Dunckley, Chief Sustainability Officer at HH Global. “Now is the time for all of us — businesses, governments, and individuals, to do all we can to keep our climate stable. We hope today’s announcement starts a trend toward supply chain shifts across all sectors and hope this announcement will inspire many other companies to join.”
“We’re proud to be working with Canopy to create a more sustainable sourcing strategy for our fiber-based packaging. Moving away from virgin fiber is part of our larger strategy to reduce the footprint of our operations,” said Ben & Jerry’s Global Sustainability Manager, Jenna Evans. “While it’s clear that rapidly ending the age of fossil fuels is required to avoid catastrophic climate change, companies still must do the hard work to ensure their packaging isn’t contributing to deforestation as well.”